The entire country should be made a Rent Pressure Zone as the cost of housing is increasingly “damaging” people outside of the big cities.
RPZs were introduced in December 2016 and if a property falls within one, the rent cannot be introduced by more than 2% in a calendar year.
The idea is to keep housing more affordable in areas where there is greatest demand for it; six local authority areas and a further 48 local electoral areas have already received the designation.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Property District CEO Carol Tallon said home working has pushed up demand for rental accommodation in areas where previously there was little demand.
“People are increasingly choosing rural Ireland and we don’t have the rental infrastructure here,” she said.
“Rural Ireland has seen really galloping rent inflation - much more so than the urban areas.”
Property in rural Ireland is still cheaper than in urban areas but Ms Tallon said the gap is narrowing “very, very quickly”.
With that in mind, she feels extending RPZs nationwide would be a logical policy decision.
“The reality is, at this point, so much of the country is a Rent Pressure Zone, it makes sense for all of the country to be a Rent Pressure Zone,” she said.
“So… we do probably need a harmonisation at this stage, so it does make sense.
“Just this summer, we saw more and more regional towns brought into that net - like Ennis and Westport.
“So actually, a lot of what we’re seeing is concentrated along the west coast and we’re seeing it across the Midlands as well.”
Critics of RPZs say they disincentivise landlords from maintaining their property and unfairly interfere in the free market.
Ms Tallon concedes they are not perfect but feels the positives outweigh the negatives.
“Any sort of market controls are problematic in their own way and are actually hampering supply, so actually that’s part of a larger conversation,” she said.
“What I would say is, the immediate focus should be what the Government actually does seem to be doing in the upcoming budget; [which is] trying to make home ownership more accessible because the reality is rent is just too expensive and it’s killing people.
“It’s stifling rural Ireland but it’s actually really damaging people in so many ways.”
Last month’s survey from Daft.ie found that rents in Ireland increased nationwide by 10% in the space of a year.
You can listen back here:
Main image: Houses in rural Ireland. Picture by: Alamy.com